Iran readying massive military exercise in Persian Gulf, officials say

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Washington (CNN)Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard is expected to soon begin a major naval exercise that could demonstrate its ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial conduit for global energy supplies, US officials say.

The exercise in the Persian Gulf could begin as soon as the next two days, according to two US officials directly familiar with the latest assessment of the Revolutionary Guard’s troop movements.

Popping the Iranian Cork in the Strait of Hormuz

Eight major maritime chokepoints, through which oil tankers transit, exist globally. Seventeen million barrels of oil daily pass through one of them – the Strait of Hormuz.

Located off the coast of Iran, situated between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, uninterrupted oil flow through it provides an energy lifeline for Asia and Europe.

Little publicized, however, is this: In a 2002 effort to keep the Strait open against Iranian forces, the U.S. Navy was soundly defeated – losing sixteen ships in the process!

Fortunately, this effort was only a war game called “Millennium Challenge” – an exercise that cost $250 million and took two years to prepare. But so shocked were war gamers at this result, they immediately changed the rules of the game to effect a different outcome. Continue reading

Iran Wants War. It Is About to Get One.

From 2012 with a lesson for today’s times:

 

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Iranian Naval troops march during the annual military parade in Tehran. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Flush from victories in the ‘Arab Spring,’ Iran is getting pushier and pushier.

Could Iran get any bolder? It seems absolutely bent on starting a war.

On Monday Iran finished off 10 days of naval exercises in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz. In the midst of those war games, Iran’s political and military leaders threatened to retaliate against sanctions by shutting down the strait. It also came to light that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards plan to sow Hormuz with mines. Continue reading

Russia and China rush to fill Mideast void left by Obama

It was meant to be a farewell visit by a cherished friend heading for retirement. Instead, Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia Tuesday and Wednesday turned into an unwanted call by an uninvited guest at an inconvenient time.

It started a the airport, when Saudi King Salman sent one of his nephews to greet the US president on arrival in Riyadh. The gesture was specially telling because the Saudi monarch had spent much of the day personally welcoming other leaders at the airport. It ended not much better: forced smiles, unconvincing statements of solidarity.

It was typical of what has become the Obama Doctrine: dropping old allies in the hope of turning adversaries into new friends.

Needless to say, the gamble has failed. Continue reading

China to Build 2 Nuclear Power Plants in Southern Iran

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“In the next two or three years we will simultaneously start building four nuclear power plants in Iran. Over 20,000 engineers and nuclear scientists will take part in the construction, ISNA news agency quoted Salehi as saying. Continue reading

How Russia Is About to Change the World

From 2010 and today still very relevant:

 

In a remote corner of the globe, a port bristles with cranes, smokestacks, mammoth ships—and trouble for Europe.

In January, Russia made a world-changing move. It completed a new oil pipeline and port complex that sets Russia up to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. The ramifications for Europe and Asia are profound: The shape of the global economy—and the global balance of power—will soon be altered forever.

December 28 was a big day of ceremony in Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pushed a button that transformed global oil dynamics. The button released thousands of barrels of Siberian crude into a waiting Russian supertanker and heralded the opening of Russia’s first modern Pacific-based oil export facilities.

Continue reading

Massive US Military Buildup on Two Strategic Islands: Socotra and Masirah

While quietly casting lines to draw Tehran into talks on their nuclear dispute, President Barack Obama is reported exclusively by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and Washington sources to have secretly ordered US air, naval and marine forces to build up heavy concentrations on two strategic islands – Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and the Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz.

Socotra is situated 80 kilometers east of the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometers southeast of the Yemeni coastline. It lies athwart the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. A military base there is in a position to oversee the shipping moving in and out of those strategic naval waterways.

Lushly verdant, Socotra is approximately 120 kilometers long by 40 kilometers wide. Its population of 55,000 has its own distinct language and culture. Since 2010, the US has been quietly building giant air force and naval bases on Socotra with facilities for submarines, intelligence command centers and take-off pads for flying stealth drones, as part of a linked chain of strategic US military facilities in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.

The Socotra facilities are so secret that they are never mentioned in any catalogue listing US military facilities in this part of the world, which include Jebel Ali and Al Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates; Arifjan in Kuwait; and Al Udeid in Qatar – all within short flying distances from Iran.

Additional US forces are also being poured into Camp Justice on the barren, 70-kilometer long Omani island of Masirah, just south of the Hormuz entry point to the Gulf of Oman from the Arabian Sea.

US military facilities were established there after the signing of an access agreement with Oman in 1980.

Up to 100,000 US troops present by early March

For the new buildup on Socotra, Washington had to negotiate a new deal with Yemen’s ousted ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Injured in an assassination attempt last year, Saleh demanded permission to travel to the United States for medical treatment. The Obama administration first refused, then relented when Saleh made it his condition for consenting to additional troops landing on the island.

Continue reading article: Massive US Military Buildup on Two Strategic Islands: Socotra and Masirah (DEBKAfile / War Sclerotic re-blog)

Iran ‘definitely’ closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo

With the looming EU embargo against Iranian oil, the Islamic Republic has responded. Turn up the middle eastern threats escalations another notch.

Tensions in the Gulf could reach a breaking point as a senior Iranian official said Iran would “definitely” close the Strait of Hormuz if an EU oil embargo disrupted the export of crude oil.

Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament’s foreign affairs and national security committee, issued the warning in respone to a decision by the European Union on Monday  to impose an oil embargo on Iran over the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

“The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

However, with Washington’s decision to deploy a second carrier strike group in the Gulf, the EU’s attempt to pressure Iran economically could greatly increase the likelihood of all-out war in the region.

The Strait of Hormuz is the vital link between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

It is also one of the most strategic chokepoints in the world when it comes to oil transit.

Continue reading article: Iran ‘definitely’ closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo (Russia Today)